Intraosseous venous access can be life-saving in trauma patients when traditional methods for obtaining venous access are difficult or impossible. Because many blunt trauma patients require expeditious evaluation by computed tomography (CT) scans with intravenous contrast, it is important to evaluate whether intraosseous catheters can be used for administering CT contrast agents in lieu of waiting until secure peripheral intravenous or central venous catheter access can be established. Previous case reports have demonstrated that tibial intraosseous catheters can be used to safely administer CT contrast in the pediatric patient population. Here we report a case in which intraosseous access was the only means of administering intravenous contrast agent in an adult blunt trauma patient. An intraosseous catheter was placed in the standard manner in the right proximal humerus. Intravenous contrast agent was administered through the intraosseous catheter, using the standard blunt trauma protocol at our institution. CT scans were evaluated by a staff radiologist and assessed for the adequacy of diagnosis for blunt traumatic injuries. CT scans of the thorax, abdomen, and pelvis were considered to be adequate for diagnostic purposes and subjectively equivalent to those of studies using traditional central venous access. The intraosseous catheter was discontinued the following day. No complications of intraosseous placement or of contrast administration were identified. Intraosseous catheterization appears to be a feasible and effective alternative to traditional methods of venous access in the administration of iodinated contrast agents for CT evaluation in adult blunt trauma patients. Further study is warranted.
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